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Triumphant town score own goal

PUBLISHED: 19:36 31 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:06 03 March 2010

IPSWICH Town has today defended criticism from fans that they should have delayed Saturday's kick off because of huge tailbacks on the A14.

As the Blues shot into a 4-0 lead in the first 45 minutes against Sunderland some supporters could not believe their luck – but for some fans the game was sheer misery.

IPSWICH Town has today defended criticism from fans that they should have delayed Saturday's kick off because of huge tailbacks on the A14.

As the Blues shot into a 4-0 lead in the first 45 minutes against Sunderland some supporters could not believe their luck – but for some fans the game was sheer misery.

The aftermath of a lorry fire on the A14 near Newmarket on Friday meant that three lanes had to merge to one leaving more than six miles of static tailbacks.

Many had to catch the first half of the match on their radios and have hit out at the club for not delaying the game until most people got there.

But club spokesman Terry Baxter said that the stadium was almost full to capacity at kick off time.

He said: "We were working with Suffolk Police as we do at every match and were also in constant contact with supporters coaches. There were 24,000 people in the ground at kick off and that is near to capacity.

"As far as we were aware there were only a handful of people coming in after kick off."

He added that there were safety issues that had to be considered with 24,000 people already in the ground.

Town fan Neil Cook, who lives just outside Cambridge, was over an hour late getting to the game.

He had left his home just after 1pm with his two sons Adrian and Jeremy to make his way towards Ipswich with the three of them clutching their prized season tickets for the North Stand.

But he became gridlocked with scores of other Town and Sunderland fans six miles away from the scene of the burnt out road in three lanes of the A14 carriageway.

The road had melted following the fire in the lorry carrying stationery that happened in the early hours of Friday morning.

The blaze was so intense that fire fighters had to let it burn itself out throughout the day, seeing the road closed for nearly 36 hours.

Just one lane of traffic was open on Saturday while Highways Officials assessed the damage to the road.

On Saturday afternoon Mr Cook found himself stationary near the junction of the A11 for nearly two hours and was only able to get to see the second half of the game with his sons after being dropped off near the ground by his wife who was driving.

He said: "I cannot believe why the football club did not delay the game as there were so many of us caught up in traffic.

"When we eventually got to the scene it was coned off and the workmen appeared to be waiting around for materials – it was a complete fiasco."

The 50-year-old who regularly uses the road said: "I have never known it so bad.

"We all switched off our engines and had the frustration of only getting to hear the first half on the radio.

"Some people were getting out of their cars and handing sweets round to help the mood of the people, many of whom were obviously very frustrated."

He added that there were no signs to warn people of the impending delays making it difficult to find an alternative route before it was too late.

Another fan, who did not want to be named, and was also coming from Cambridge said: "It was an absolute nightmare, the traffic was barely moving."

Cambridge police took more than 30 calls in a four hour period in the southern end of the county, many from disgruntled people stuck in traffic.

Suffolk police recorded six and a half mile tailbacks of non moving traffic but there were no Sunderland coaches in the queues.

The road was reopened at around 7.30pm on Saturday evening.


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